Information Systems Flight provides combat support to battlefield Airmen
By Master Sgt. Bryan Ripple, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 12, 2007
BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- Later this month, Airmen from the 332nd Expeditionary Communications Squadron's Information Systems Flight are set to begin a major project to complete a "tech-refresh" of about 80 computer servers at the Network Control Center here inside a secure facility known as "the box."
When Airmen assigned to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing sit down at their computers, they rely upon certain services to be available to them in order to efficiently carry out the wing's mission.
Services such as e-mail, storage space on shared drives, small computer equipment repair, network infrastructure management, communication security, and the help desk are all provided by the 332nd ECS's Information Systems Flight.
According to 1st Lt. Timothy Turner, deployed here from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, as the Officer in Charge of the NCC of the 332nd Information Systems Flight, many of these services will be enhanced later this month during the tech-refresh.
"A four-person team from the CENTAF Network Operations and Security Center [NOSC] will lead our migration to the new servers," said Lt. Turner. "Our goal is to complete the migration with minimal impact to our users; but as with any project of this magnitude, there will be minor disruptions to network services. We'll be taking every action possible to minimize them," he said.
The NOSC team is scheduled to arrive during the last week of February, and the $1.4 million project is scheduled to last about three weeks.
Lt. Turner said the 332nd ECS has been planning for the server migration for several months in coordination with the CENTAF NOSC with goals of increasing the reliability and capability of the network.
Another added benefit will be Outlook Web Access [OWA] for permanent party members here to access e-mail when they are away from Balad.
One Airman who provides services from the NCC is Senior Airman Joshua Johnson, deployed here from Aviano Air Base, Italy, as a network administrative technician assigned to the Information Systems Flight.
"Without the services we provide, our customers wouldn't have Outlook e-mail or storage space on the shared drives," said Airman Johnson, who also assists wing agencies in managing their intranet pages. "It feels good when someone says thanks for helping them fix a problem," he said.
With more than 2,000 computers in use here by more than 4,000 personnel, the Information Systems Flight's 37 Airmen and seven contractors work diligently to maintain consistent availability of the network.
"Our network availability rate has been close to 100 percent since AEF 5-6 began," said Senior Master Sgt. Ken Reinhart, deployed here from McConnell AFB as the superintendent of the Information Systems Flight. "Our people showed up trained and qualified to operate this network and we put a lot of responsibility on them. We provide the communication that enables the wing to accomplish its mission," he said.
One of the benefits of a reliable communications network is the ability to coordinate important information quickly and securely.
"The use of unclassified and classified networks helps us in the Protocol office send out distinguished visitor itineraries much faster than we could in person, saving us many hours in coordination time," said Staff Sgt. Michael Williams of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Protocol office.